The Trans Rights Read-a-thon 2023
🏳️⚧️Have y’all heard about the Trans Rights Read-a-thon yet?🏳️⚧️ It was from March 20-27th in 2023.
Sim Kern (@sim_bookstagrams_badly ) created the #TransRightsReadathon in an effort to combat the increasing number of anti-trans bills in the U.S.with fundraising, reading, and highlighting books by & about trans & non-binary folks. To join this cause, keep reading & check out the top link in Sim's bio.
Legislators in my home state of Florida are perpetrators of this violence against queer and trans folks. I may no longer live there but I cannot stand by while they push these hateful bills. One of these bills would remove children from their guardian of the guardian helps them receive gender affirming care!
If you can't donate, please share this post and ones like it. If you have a bit of time, you can also call/write these legislatures to let them know you are opposed to anti-trans bills. The ACLU website has lists of all of the bills being proposed in each state.
If you have kids, please pay attention to the materials their schools may be removing from the classrooms and libraries. It’s harder said than done, but this is one of those times in history where inaction can lead to genocide.
For this read-a-thon, I read:
Avi Cantor has Six Months to Live by Sacha Lamb
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
If you also want to read Sacha’s book, you can check out the link in my bio or find it on thebooksmugglers.com (free).
Book Reviews Below!
Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live by Sacha Lamb was the last book I read for the #transrightsreadathon and I really enjoyed it.
Rating: 5 stars
This YA novella is about a Jewish trans boy who finds “Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Lived” scrawled on the mirror in the bathroom in black eyeliner. This is weird and a bit shocking to Avi because he hasn’t told anyone his real name, not even his mom. He just has more questions like, how does this rando know he’s gonna die and why six months?
As gossip about this prediction spread through the student body, a new classmate named Ian reaches out to Avi in an offer of support. Ian is also trans and doesn’t want Avi to go through this experience alone. Ian is “all sunshine, optimism, and magic.” As their connection grows, so does Avi’s need to know if he will actually die in six months and why.
Another beautifully nuanced and well-written book by Sacha Lamb! This was such a short story but I felt like I was inside of it. The characters were more fleshed out than I expected there would be time for. I love the way that Sacha interpreted the magic and connected it to Judaism.
A creative and heartfelt book.
Includes: bullying, loneliness, magic, suicidal thoughts, love, & a demon.
I finished Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender! 🎨
Rating: 4.5 stars
Felix Ever After is a young adult book about 17-year-old Felix Love who has, ironically, never been in love. In fact, he believes it's possible that no one may ever love him. His mom left their family years ago but the pain of that rejection remains.
Felix is hoping that attending his school's Summer program for artists could be the ticket to getting a scholarship to go to Brown University. One day, he walks into school to see his private pre-transition photos on display alongside his deadname. Feeling humiliated & hurt by this act of hatred, Felix sets out to find the transphobic asshole who did it. He believes it may just be his nemesis Declan & creates a plan to embarrass this guy the way he was. In his quest to catfish Declan, Felix begins to learn more about himself, his friends, & his goals.
Since I couldn't get a hold of the print copy in time for this read-a-thon, I ended up listening to it on audiobook via the Libby app, which was great!
I really enjoyed this story despite this anxiety that catfishing give me 😂. Felix is a sweet kid who has been through some shit & I'm glad he had the space to explore the complexities of it. I was a little bit surprised at the amount of cannabis use throughout the book, but it's not like I can say whether or not that's authentic as I'm not a teenager & I don't live in NYC. The best part about this book for me, aside from Felix's friendship with Ezra, was the depiction of a person questioning who they really are & realizing that this may be a lifelong journey instead of arriving at an identity destination.
❗content warning❗: there are a lot of instances of transphobia throughout.
The first book I've finished reading is 💃Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Tran's Girl's Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom
5 star read💫, friends!
This was a super short book and I listened to it on audiobook via the Libby app (library books ftw).
When I first picked this up, the only reference I had for a memoir steeped in magical realism was Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House. I realized very quickly that Fierce Femmes is a completely different thing! While this book is still full of fantastical elements and absurdities, it is a novel/faux memoir.
The main character is a trans girl who is the daughter of Chinese immigrants (in Canada, I believe) who live in a crooked house in a city called Gloom. Her parents are abusive so, although she feels guilty about leaving her sister, she knows running away will be for the best.
The MC is a self-described liar so we already know we have an unreliable narrator, which made this kind of intriguing. I loved the stories of connecting with other femmes in the pleasure district and the MC's journey of enforcing consent. It's a much needed discussion when others feel as though they are entitled to your body.
This novel includes: transphobia, consent, sex work, drug use and abuse, found family, love, murder, revenge, adventure, and hot ghosts, among other things.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Rating: 4.25 ⭐️
I feel like the book is best described by the blurb from Emezi’s website:
“One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.”
This book was pretty devastating but I got to a point where I couldn’t put it down. The many povs were so realistic and I felt like Emezi was really patient with creating each narrative. I probably won’t read it again but I’d recommend it to those who have already read other Emezi works like You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty because both books are quite messy.
‼️ Spoilers to follow‼️
I could have done without the incest element here. I was also surprised by how many sex scenes there were but such is life, I suppose! The ending was very unexpected for me which made it all the more heartbreaking.
This book includes themes like found family, understanding identity, & forbidden love.
Content warnings: death, homophobia, transphobia, toxic masculinity, incest, sexism, infidelity, sex, religious violence, & r*pe.